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Abandoned Penthouse Casino – The Haludovo Palace Hotel – Bikini, Optional

abandoned hotel croatia

 

Scantily clad Penthouse Magazine “Pets” deliver Pina Colada’s and casually spin Roulette wheels. Even with punters being surrounded ten-deep by soft-porn models, happy endings at the Penthouse Adriatic Club casino always come down to the luck of the draw. Housed in the Haludovo Palace Hotel on the Croatian island of Krk (please, somebody buy a vowel), the hotel/casino/hotbed of 1970′s awesomeness was the brainchild of Bob Guccione – owner of Penthouse Magazine worldwide.

Opening its lavish doors during the thick years of Josip Bros Tito’s Yugoslavia, at a cost of 45 million dollars – in 1972, dollars were worth a lot more than they are these days – the Haludovo Hotel had a fittingly rock star ending. One year after opening, the opulent Casino complex by the seaside was declared Bankrupt in 1973. Bikini’s were packed into suitcases, chips were cashed in, and the Pets went home. 1970′s Yugoslavia? Hell yes.

After more than a year on continuously the road, it’s fair to say I spend a lot of time in hotels. However, this is not 1972 Yugoslavia, where men wore mustaches, Mexican inspired salsa music was rocketing up the charts, and brand new brutalist concrete apartment blocks were gleaming, not decaying. This is 2013 Croatia, and as you can see from the photos, the Haludovo Palace Hotel may be fit for photographers with a bent for urban exploration – but it’s not exactly the glamorous destination it was in Bob’s days.

haludovo penthouse hotel croatia

Haludovo Palace Hotel. Also known as the Adriatic Club Casino. On the island of Krk, Croatia

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Indoor swimming pool at the Haludovo Hotel. Come on in, the water is fine.

abandoned bowling alley

Not up for a swim? Perhaps a game of Ten Pen Bowling then. Penthouse Club Adriatic, Krk, Croatia.

hotel abandoned krk

Elevators are out of order at teh Penthouse Adriatic Club. Actually, pretty much everything is out of order these days.

penthouse hotel krk

Magnificent views over the Adriatic Sea. Krk, Croatia.

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One of the wings where the suites are located in the Haludova Palace Hotel, Croatia.

abandoned penthouse hotel croatia krk

Great mid-century modernist design. Krk, Croatia.

These days, the Haludovo sits as stark evidence that “Communist” Yugoslavia, ruled over by “Dictator” Tito, is perhaps not exactly what you thought it was. Even though the term “Iron Curtain” was coined in these parts, it’s very clear that allowing an American businessman to set up a hotel/casino so that local and foreign gamblers could throw money around whilst being waited on by Penthouse Pets is an indicator that perhaps Yugoslavia was not as communist as you may have been led to believe. And that Tito was not exactly the dictator with the heaviest fists.

Then, as now, misconceptions and misunderstandings about the former Yugoslavia filled the minds of Western citizens. Perhaps more people should have paid attention to Penthouse Magazine, the bastion and final word on all things political (I only read it for the articles), when the June 1972 edition described Haludovo as “richly located on the idyllic island of Krk, a few miles south of Trieste and directly opposite Venice, this mile-long Xanadu of glittering buildings will become for international cognoscenti a premier playground for summer and winter seasons alike.”

Every day, Lobster, Caviar, and Champagne was consumed like it was going out of style. Because, it was. There was a problem. Despite the architecture being “a gracefully colonnaded construction within whose elegant interior is the Great Lounge, bedecked with hanging gardens, pools and fountains”, and that the casino was promised to compete “with the finest casinos in Las Vegas and other principal gambling centers”, the Casino component, known as the “Anglo-American Penthouse Casino”, was unfortunately restricted only to foreign gamblers. And foreigners didn’t exactly flock to Yugoslavian casino’s in 1972. With such a huge expense in construction and ongoing costs, it was soon apparent that the hotel was bleeding money, hand over <ahem> iron fist. This is one Casino where the house didn’t always win.

But that wasn’t the end of the Haludovo. For the next twenty years, the hotel resort was operated as a worker-run enterprise, with the Penthouse king pin breaking all ties. Right up until 1990, the hotel was profitable. And then that most Yugoslavian of beasts – war – meant that the tourists well and truly dried up. During the years of war, parts of the complex were used as a refugee camp, and the downfall of the Haludovo continued to gain momentum. Ironically, it was the brutal process of “communist” Yugoslavia transforming into capitalist Croatia, that bought about the end of Bob’s palace. These days, the hotel has changed owners a few times, with the current owners seemingly not phased that an icon of mid-century architectural grandeur continues to devolve into abandoned decay.

haludovo hotel croatia abandoned krk

Yep. Out of order.

croatian modernist architecture

Mid century modern. Hotel Haludovo Palace, on the island of Krk, Croatia.

Amazing ceiling details at the Haludovo. In the distance is my Croatian buddy Nikola, a fellow photographer and part time trespasser.

Amazing ceiling details at the Haludovo. In the distance is my Croatian buddy Nikola, a fellow photographer and part time trespasser.

Inside this sauna, I don't really want to know.

Inside this sauna, I don’t really want to know.

The hotel kitchen. Lobster, Caviar, Bikini's.

The hotel kitchen. Lobster, Caviar, Bikini’s.

haludovo hotel palace

It’s like Wheel of Fortune, urbex edition. “I’ll take a P, and an L”.

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Island hopping onto the island of Krk from another one of Croatia’s stunning islands. Getting off is easy – a bridge connects Krk with the mainland.

 

 

Still, you’ve got to hand it to Bob Guccione (RIP). Although a natural assumption may be that the American uber-capitalist was interested in nothing but money and perfectly shaped women, keep in mind this quote:

“There are still false ideas about Yugoslavia as a country behind the “Iron Curtain,” as a country in which a businessman or someone looking for entertainment would find nothing. The Penthouse, too, faces many prejudices, doubts and a lack of understanding. We are called non-serious exhibitionists and pornographers, incapable of and disinterested in any serious business. I think that all this is, above all, a result of ignorance. Even the cold war itself is a consequence of ignorance. In order to defeat ignorance it is necessary to develop communications between people. In this connection tourism is certainly one of the most powerful forms of communication. Through the realization of this project, the Penthouse Adriatic on Krk, we have the opportunity to start a big process of re-education: we have become partners in removing doubts and ignorance.”

So, I wouldn’t go as far as calling Mr Guccione a humanitarian, but he did seem to get a kick from doing his part to educate the rest of the world about what Yugoslavia was really like.

Bob knew, but I don’t. Without having lived through 1972 Yugoslavia, I don’t feel 100% justified in being 100% certain of what it was like.

But having visited the rapidly decaying ruins of the modernist masterpiece that is the Haludovo Palace Hotel, I can be absolutely certain of one thing about Yugoslavia.

It wasn’t what you think it was.

And it wasn’t what I thought it was.

Nate.

 

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PPS, I’m currently in the eye-of-the-storm of a European road trip. I’ve driven 2900km’s so far – from the Netherlands, to Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania. Twelve countries in nine days. I will write about the journey so far, soon. At the end of next week I’ll be heading to a secret destination, not outlined on my initial plans. Maybe I won’t even be able to drive there. Be the first to find out, join the spam-free email list and have the next post sent to your inbox:

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Haludovo Hotel

For further reading about the Haludovo Palace Hotel/Penthouse Adriatic Club, check out “Yugoslavia Virtual Museum“.

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33 Responses to Abandoned Penthouse Casino – The Haludovo Palace Hotel – Bikini, Optional

  1. kami Aug 19, 2013 at 4:30 am #

    Are you maybe heading to Moldova during this trip? (I have a feeling this might be the secret destination;)) If you do – there’s an abandoned circus in Chisinau that I’m sure you’d love! In case you’re going let me know and I’ll try to find out some details where to find it, a friend of mine has recently visited it and it looks pretty impressive!

    • Nate Robert Aug 19, 2013 at 4:37 am #

      Hmmm… let’s just say you should get those details to me ;)

      • kami Aug 19, 2013 at 4:45 am #

        ha! ;) now I’m really looking forward to reading (and seeing!) all about your trip there! http://architectuul.com/architecture/chisinau-circus here you have some details with the location. I could see my friend was inside so it’s definitely possible to explore it better

        • Nate Robert Aug 19, 2013 at 4:48 am #

          Thanks Kami! PS, I will be heading to Moldova next week, but that’s not the “secret” destination ;)

          Also, just had a look at the link…wow…that’s a must-see!

          • kami Aug 19, 2013 at 4:51 am #

            I guess that would be the country that formally does not exist but is a part of Moldova ;) am I even close ;) ?

  2. Polly Aug 19, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    This is pretty amazing… I think I may need to go dig around the internet to find some 1970s Penthouse now and see this baby in its former glory.

    Looking forward to a maybe now not-so-secret location.

    • Nate Robert Aug 19, 2013 at 9:27 am #

      Hey Polly – I think the June 1972 issue is the one. I would love to see some higher-res original photos, I couldn’t find many on the internet. And yes, thanks to Kami, the secret is out ;)

      • kami Aug 19, 2013 at 9:48 am #

        but it wasn’t too difficult to figure it out! ;) and besides I didn’t write the full name of the place, did I ;) ?

        btw, are you guys by any chance plan to revisit Poland anytime soon?

        • Nate Robert Aug 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

          I’m not great at keeping secrets anyway haha. Poland, I would love to return to and explore properly, but I’m semi-planned out until the end of this year… I think about Lodz often – something about that main street, and the light, really fascinated me. But there were so many great things I saw all over Poland, even though I had such a short amount of time there. You will be the first to know if we head that way!

  3. A Cook Not Mad (Nat) Aug 19, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Beautiful! Looking at these photos you can imagine how extravagant it was in its hey day. Thanks for blowing my mind on this lovely Monday morning.

    • Nate Robert Aug 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      Nat, you’re most welcome, just doing my job ;)

  4. Bethany Aug 19, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Great stuff Nate! I love abandoned buildings. : )

  5. Paul Aug 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Sitting at my desk there are are currently 2 things that I am desiring. One, for it to be 1972 and two, to be in Krk.

    • Nate Robert Aug 20, 2013 at 4:17 am #

      One of those two is possible… the other, I’m not so sure…

  6. Ben Aug 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Hey Dawg, wonderful as always- I was telling Buff I should give you more props for the excellent job you are doing – so here you go- Mad Props Bro’!!!

    • Nate Robert Aug 20, 2013 at 4:16 am #

      YO! Cheers man… we’ll have to Skype soon DAWG.

  7. Nate Aug 20, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    Great stuff as always Nate. Keep up the great work.

  8. alex Aug 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    You make me smile. The first country I thought about is the one Kami found out…… I am so superjealous. Have a good time there, and keep up your grat work.

    • Nate Robert Aug 21, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      haha – I am constantly amazed at how well my readers can anticipate the places I’m headed to, and the things I’m planning on seeing. I remember not so long ago, when I told people I was heading to Bulgaria to see something “secret”, instantly people were saying “oh, you must be heading to Buzludzha, to see that abandoned communist monument on that remote mountain top”. Bingo. Maybe next time I’ll keep my secret, secret until after I return ;)

      But cheers Alex, I’m really looking forward to it. Just trying to sort a Visa issue out with Moldova, but it’s looking good for next week.

      • alex Aug 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

        I am happy for you that you try that. It is a long time hidden dream of me to go there and find out how it is in T………… .
        Best wishes from Tyrol, Alex

        • Nate Robert Aug 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

          Thanks Alex… and may your abandoned hotel dreams come true one day.

  9. Laurence Zankowski Aug 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Nate,

    You are probably going to that secret location to drown your sorrow over the recent Ashes cock – up… It has been a series hasn’t it? I still can not figure out cricket though.

    Be well

    Laurence

    • Nate Robert Aug 27, 2013 at 4:48 am #

      Hey Laurence… yes, it seems I picked the wrong time to catch up on some Cricket viewing. I’ve already bored one or two Romanians stupid in an attempt to explain the game and the importance of the series haha. It’s a hard one to understand for sure, I’ll admit that!

  10. Noelle Sep 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Realized I needed to do some catching up. Interesting post on and interesting place. What has been the consensus of the people there about Gen. Tito? DId they like him?

    • Nate Robert Sep 14, 2013 at 5:01 am #

      Hi Noelle! Consensus is, those who are old enough to remember, almost 100% loved him and that era.

      • Noelle Sep 16, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

        Kind of seems like that would be the case from how you’ve talked about him. Very interesting.

  11. Mads Hugo Pedersen Sep 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi Nate,

    I just discovered your site today (hmm, wonder why it took me so long to find it…).

    Wow, this is an amazing article and I love your photos. I love urban photography and decay, so Haludovo really caught my eye. I might go to Criatia next year again and I was wondering if the hotel is “available” for the public or if you have to trespass to explore it?

    I look forward to read more articles from your trip.

    Best regards,
    Mads – a Dane living in Munich

    • Nate Robert Oct 1, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      Hey Mads… you do technically have to “trespass”, but nobody is going to mind (that was my experience). You can basically walk straight in… Good luck!

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